I have been traveling a bit this summer, and one of my trips led me back to Illinois for a few weeks. While there, I visited family and friends, and had a glorious time with everyone. One of those friends traveled to Florida with me a few years back, and then we stopped in a quaint little town named Micanopy. It is not too far south of Gainesville, and quaint in the sense that its few streets are lined with weeping trees and magnolias; houses are colorful in shades of purple and pink and turquoise and lemon with wrap around porches, and if your imagination will let you, you are taken back to another century drinking iced tea, fanning your face to keep the air swirling on this hot summer day. I had to stop on my return trip to Florida, and so I told my friend that I was going to visit this southern town with its two-block long business district of antiques and restaurants. There is one gift shop, but do not plan on shopping for souvenirs; rather, artsy decor. I like it.

In the conversation about Micanopy, we discussed the pronunciation of the town. I thought it should be Mic a no py, she thought it should be Mi can o py. I was on a quest. I had to learn the correct pronunciation once I returned to the town, so I stopped in a shop where a woman was making a stained glass window. I talked to her for quite some time as I am learning how to do this art form, and we finally got around to discussing the pronunciation of the word. She pointed her finger at a rack of t-shirts (I guess you could say this would be a souvenir) and on the shirt was Mick-a-no-pee, explaining that question came up a lot so they decided to settle it with a printed t-shirt. I was satisfied.

In the course of my quest, it reminded me of another time when a word’s pronunciation was at question. Years ago, when I graduated college, I went to Florida to work as a journalist. While there, I always remember overhearing this conversation.

Two people were talking, and one was saying he was going to Pu bick after work. He went on and on about Pu bick, and it was a great place to go. Finally, after some time, the other guy asked where this Pu bick was, thinking it was an odd name for a store. The first guy said, it’s in the round-a-bout, I buy my groceries there. The second guy responded, it’s Pub lix, not Pu bick.

Hey, have a great day, and a better week.

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Let’s talk about chuck…

I know, you think I am going to talk about Chuck, that guy Chuck, but no; instead I am going to talk about food, letting go, keeping on, and laughter. Oh, how Chuck gets around!

Could you imagine going to a foreign country knowing a bit of their language and you hear that the chuck was good last night. (I know where your mind is right now!), You heard Chuck, and you are thinking, well, that is a bit personal. But the person is not talking about a person at all, he is talking about food. And now knowing that chuck also means food, we can see how the cowboy came up with chuckwagon —  a wagon of food. On the subject of cowboys, they used chuckwagon chicken for fried bacon, so next time you want some bacon out west, in cowboy land, just ask for chuckwagon chicken and they will think you are half cowboy!

Talking about food, you might also hear chuck it down, which nurses and wait staff know fairly well as they have learned to eat very quickly. So, the chuckwagon may have been on site, but in order to get the job done, you just gotta chuck it down. But don’t eat too quickly or get too chucked (intoxicated) and you may upchuck. Ick!

Then there are days when you need to let it go, chuck it. Here, you just might have had enough and know when it is time to let a notion or emotion go. Chuck could have chucked the spoiled chuck when he realized the frig needed to be chucked. But we never want to chuck it in until the very last minute because we never want to give up.

There are always woodchucks (groundhogs) in February telling us how many more weeks of winter, and then at Easter we may refer to chucky as a little chick.

Playfully, you just may call someone a numchuck, not really meaning he is an idiot. You may also chuckle when you call out someone is a numchuck because laughter really is the best medicine. And I sit hear, typing this, chuckling to myself, thinking Chuck has come a long way — from a man to food to letting go and keeping on to the one thing that is so important to me — laughter.

Until next time, Keep on chuckling…

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Bob Dylan and Corny

I was reading Bob Dylan’s interview in the AARP magazine the other day, when the interviewer. Robert Love, asked the question, “Do you think these songs will fall on younger ears as corny?” Dylan started the answer with “…what does the word corny mean exactly?”

After hearing the word I wanted to break into a song and dance routine with Jimmy Crack Corn when I saw the word, and after I got that out of my system, I wanted to know more about this corny word. According to Webster it is used in informal language, and means unsophisticated, old fashioned, or trite. Since all music goes around, I can’t imagine Dylan’s songs will seem corny to the younger ears. His songs seem to stand any test of time, take a look at Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door or Blowin’ in the Wind (one of my favorites). Dylan recorded “Knockin’…” in 1973 and some 40+ years later, we still know that song. It has been played over and over by such greats as Guns N’ Roses and Eric Clapton. You can listen to it on You Tube! Corny? I don’t think so. My favorite, Blowin’ in the Wind will last about as long as mankind, in my opinion. This song deals with the rhetorical questions we as human beings have asked as long as we can remember. As Dylan asks, “How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?” There are no answers to the questions he poses in this song, but he definitely gives the listener something to think about. Trite. I don’t think so. As long as man can think, man will pose those eternal questions. Old fashioned. Not by a long shot.

But that is only two of his myriad of songs. To name just a few more, there is Just Like a Woman, Mr. Tambourine Man, Like a Rolling Stone, and The Times They Are A-Changin. It’s true, The times are a-changin, but not Dylan’s music. This old hippie still sees him sitting with his guitar on stage, singing words that have meaning and thought provoking ideas. No, I don’t think any younger ears will see his words as “corny”, and I can see quite a few of them sitting around with their guitars posing those eternal questions. Thank you Mr. Dylan.

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It’s all about the Chicken

chicken-648668_1280I went to my writer’s group yesterday and Bill was reading a passage he wrote — about chicken feed; you know, many jobs pay chicken feed nowadays. Some professions have seen a raise in recent months, but many have remained status quo since the recession and chicken feed prevails. Actually, he is from Canada and Canada has retired the penny because the paltry cent is basically considered chicken feed, but you could save the pennies and cash in 10,000 of them for the grand total of $100. Chicken feed! I wonder how long it would  take to collect 10,000 pennies? All that chicken feed is heavy when you have to lug it around in your purse or pocket.

Sparking that idea about chicken got me thinking how much we use chicken in our language. Now, this has nothing to do with that good ‘ole southern fried chicken so few of us eat today because of that good but bad fat, but has everything to do with when you chicken out of something because you are too afraid to do it; you’re just a chicken because, face it, you’re just a scaredy cat; or don’t be such a chicken shit, that’s what I will call the scaredy cat when he is too afraid to do the deed. (OK, you can call me that because I take too few risks when it comes to fear.)

I know I’m no spring chicken, but I wasn’t around when Hoover used the term “a chicken in every pot” during his campaign in ’28. Shoot, King Henry IV of France used the term in 1589 when he wanted his peasants to have a chicken in their pot every Sunday. Just Sundays? I wonder what they had in their pots Monday through Saturday, and did they get the chicken in their pot on Sunday? I think Hoover and Henry was talking about the real deal — you know, the chicken we eat.

Now that I am retired, I do not have to run around like a chicken with its head cut off, and I’m old enough to have paid for all those misdeeds of youth, so I am not going to worry about the chickens coming home to roost, and I quit counting the chickens before they hatched a long time ago. Which brings me back to chicken. The kind you eat. All this talk about chicken has made me hungry. So, the question is, do I worry about the good but bad for you fat and have the baked chicken, or splurge and have the southern fried chicken?

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Life in the Follies

Saturday night a group of friends and an entire theatre of like-minded people attended the 2015 Kings Point Follies. We journeyed back in time via music and dance to the 1950s and 1960s. Fun, fun, fun. Since I am younger than the teens of the 50s, I can only remember my sister dancing and singing to such songs as Little Grass Shack, All of Me, or Mack the Knife. One of mother’s songs was King of the Road. Me, well I enjoyed travelling back in time to Sonny and Cher singing I Got You Babe and Connie Francis’ Where the Boys Are. I am really a rock ‘n roll kinda girl and even heavy metal!, but I enjoyed the trip down memory lane to me as a young teenager.

In the midst of all the singing and dancing, I was thinking of the word “Follies”. Yes, we associate it with a song and dance routine with elaborate costumes and much reverie for a few hours. But, “folly” does not have such a meaning. Basically, it means foolishness, lacking good sense, and the past tense of “folly” is “follies”. So, the past tense follies has nothing to do with the follies I saw Saturday night. Or maybe it does. I can tell you I had many follies in my youth as I danced the night away and I did not think all that dancing was a folly. I have had many follies as I drove through snow and ice storms in winter months, and, boy, have I made some stupid mistakes, some follies, in my life. Hasn’t everyone? The Kings Point Follies were not foolish or rash or showed senseless behavior; and in my life, I never thought my follies were foolish, rash or senseless. It’s just looking back that I see the follies of my behavior.

And on that note, I have to reiterate a joke that was given Saturday night.

This young couple was on their way to get married in the Catholic church when they were in a horrible car wreck and both were killed. They went to the Pearly Gates of Heaven and while waiting to see St. Peter, they wondered if they could get married in heaven. Once St. Peter came to the gate, they asked him their request. He told them that question was never asked before and he would have to go and find out. St. Peter left. He was gone for a long time, a couple of months, and during that time, the couple start thinking. Well, if the marriage does not work out, can we get a divorce. Finally after months being gone, St. Peter comes back and tells them they can get married. They then ask St. Peter their question, if the marriage does not work out, can we get a divorce? St. Peter slams down his clipboard, and says, “It took me three months to find a Catholic priest to marry you, do you have any idea how long it will take me to find a lawyer”?

Until next time….

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Sometimes it’s back to Square One, kinda….

I will continue the tale of getting settled in Florida. Now, I am here, have the blow-up bed and the lawn chair, and the walls are butt ugly. That has to change.

First, I get estimates to take down the wallpaper and paint the walls. You gotta be kidding me. $5000. No way. Better yet, the contractor (yes, a man with a storefront and references) changed the price six (that’s right, 6) times before we ended the conversation. He went down to $2800. Reasonable, but not a deal. Did not care that I could talk my way down that much and wondered what kind of a businessman he was. I got more estimates. Rather, desperate estimates — one man called me every other hour to see if he got the job. Finally, I had to say no just because he was smothering me. I wanted Dan my handyman back, but he moved to south Florida a year before me. I wanted someone like Dan. Someone who would charge a decent price and in return, I would get a decent finished project; someone I could trust, and where I knew that the job would be a good one. I just knew somewhere in my part of Florida this person existed.

So, I took a chance on a young fella (who was also desperate). The paint job was a good one — okay, it was an average one. But then, I was not looking for anything beyond a basic paint job. Only problem was, he was not neat. In the end, he splattered paint everywhere. To make ugly carpet worse, oh well, it was going to get changed. The walls were painted and the little flowers were gone from the kitchen. Fairly content.

In between time, I decide that the ugly, old linoleum in the kitchen and bathroom has to go. The young man sells me on the idea that he has gone to carpentry school for four years, and he knew how to lay laminate flooring. So, before all the rooms were finished being painted, I had him start changing the floors for those two rooms. And he did know how to lay the laminate, but he did not know how to finish the floors, like miter corners or use caulk. I tried to explain to him what the finished product should look like, but I don’t think he liked that too much. Oh, what a mess I had. And he said he would be back to clean up and to finish up.

He never came back. Didn’t answer his phone, and I knew I was had.

I felt I was back to square one, back to the beginning, only now I had a real bed, a couple of real chairs, and painted walls and half-done floors. So, there was a little progress. But, I felt, I needed to start over with the floors.

I was getting to know the area a little better, saw there was an interior design workshop and signed up. Very good move on my part. I had the designer come to my house and take a look, give me some guidance. And I found some furniture, so my house was being furnished slowly.

I wasn’t necessarily back to the drawing board, but I did feel very unsettled. My designer, Denise, did help.

Another contractor came over to give me bids on other projects that I wanted to do (he never called back, never got the numbers to even consider other projects), but I did make contact with a flooring guy (storefront, lots of years in business) and I had him come to the house. He straightened out some of the flooring problems, and I hired him to put white (unbelievably beautiful) laminate flooring in three rooms and the foyer. And the bathroom floor (that was just replaced) was replaced again with tile.

Progress. I started going to a ceramic class. I was out of the house.

Almost. The floor is finished, beautiful and I am very, very pleased. But the guy that was subcontracted to put in the tile didn’t do a very good job with the walls. Don’t get me wrong, the tile is great, a wonderful job, but I asked for new baseboards and once done, he took some of the wall with the baseboards. Of course, he did not make it right.

So, another fight to fight. But, I’m really tired of working on this house. I have furniture, the walls are painted, and the 3 rooms are beyond my expectations.

Sometimes I felt I took two steps forward and went one back, but it was not the reverse, where I took one step forward and two back. Progress is being made. One day the whole shebang will be done, you know the whole enchilada, the whole kit and caboodle, the whole ball of wax, but for the moment…

I have had my first stain glass class, joined a writer’s club, a genealogy club, continue with ceramics, walk most days, meet new people, explore, do some chalk painting, and write. I am writing again. It feels good. And I have plain walls and a couple of beautiful floors.

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Moving is not for the faint-of-heart

About a year ago, I decided to move from Illinois to Florida. I had no idea what I was getting myself into!

Initially, I thought I would simply sell my house, find another house, and go and live my life. Ha – Ha. Last April, I started clearing out my house, downsizing, packing and pitching. I was ready for a new beginning in a new house in a new town in a new state. My niece helped me pack what I wanted to take, and I rented a storage unit to make my house clutter-free for the sale. Exhausting but manageable. Then, the house sold. Quickly. I don’t think I was ready for that quick of a sale. And definitely not for the closing some four weeks later. And that is when the panic set in.

My open house was in mid June, last year. I knew the next week that a young couple was interested, but their house had to sell and they had not even put it on the market. I figured I had time. Their house was immediately put on the market and it sold within two weeks. I had four weeks to close on the sale. Maybe I should rephrase that. I had four weeks to empty out my house, find a house in Florida, and move. Moving belongings is one thing, but then there are doctors, dentists, bankers, businesses, and friends, don’t forget the friends and family that need to be aware of the move. In four weeks. And all the necessary appointments for the sale of the house.

I made a quick run to Florida to find a house. I knew where I wanted to be, just needed to find a house. And I left Florida thinking I had a house. But within the eight hours it took to cross the state line, I learned I lost the house to a cash buyer. Okay, I had house Number 2 as a back up. Three hours later I found that that house also went to a cash buyer. Okay. I went online, and selected house Number 3; sight unseen, I put in a bid. I needed a home to call my own. And I got it.

By now, I was in Illinois, and had only a few weeks until closing. A friend’s son is a mortgage broker, so he helped. Let me rephrase that. He started and completed the loan within a few weeks. Unheard of. But, it happened. By this time, I was working around the clock, the mortgage broker was working around the clock, and my niece was helping. I also had to find a mover. And I had no idea on that one.

I considered my grandson, but he was working and he lived in another town, and I had no idea what I was doing. So, friends of mine knew someone else who was moving out-of-state and told me about a mover. Okay. I had to do something. In between time, I could put everything in storage. There were two units by now. I contacted the mover, and finished up clearing out the house for the closing.

If you could have only seen me the day of the closing! I was a crazy lady. At the end, I neither had the boxes nor the will to continue packing, so I put everything I could into my car. Friends came over, and they packed their car with my belongings. I had only a few hours until closing. Finally, at the end, there was no room in either car, and I simply bagged the rest and put it ready for the garbage. (The new owners said I could do that). I had a full car, took a quick shower. Couldn’t find my hair dryer, couldn’t find my shoes, and did not have clean clothes. I went to close on my house, and we all laughed through the closing. I do have a sense of humor.

I was officially homeless. Friends gave me a room and food, and after two nights I left for Florida to close on the sight-unseen house. In between time, the cars’ contents were emptied into the storage units.

Oh-ho. The house had the square footage, but all the walls were pink. Pink. And there were little flowers on wallpaper that was unraveling on the walls. Carpet needed to be replaced. Cabinets were old. I wanted to cry. What did I get myself into?

I signed the papers, emptied my car, found a bank, turned on the electricity. And I went back to Illinois

Staying with the same friends, I returned to the storage units to pack the items that were emptied from the cars on the day I closed on my Illinois house. I had one week before the movers came. And, after seeing the movers, I realized that if I would have rented a truck to move myself, I had too much to put into the size of truck I would have selected. At least everything would be together.

The middle of September, I was on my way to my new house, my new town, my new state. I was very, very tired.

But, it doesn’t end there. I had walls that needed to be painted, floors that needed to be cleaned or replaced, furniture that needed to be bought  (I started with a blow-up bed and a lawn chair). Somehow, today enough is done for me to stop for a while and get back to my life. Writing. Yay!!! And being creative, chalk painting furniture, painting ceramics and learning stain glass techniques. I am here. I am where there is sun most days of the year. Where there is no snow to shovel. Where there is an entire state to explore. Change is good. I may not be an adventurer, but I am not faint-of-heart. Would I do it again? You betcha. There’s nothing like change and a challenge. For me, it’s better than feeling safe only because life shows familiarity.


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